When the chance comes around to chat with 4-star DE Zykeivous Walker, it is always a fun reminder.
It starts with the notion the big-time world of college football recruiting still has a few fresh storylines.
Maybe it also a refresher the news cycle doesn’t spin that fast. Or doesn’t need to. These are all unique people that power these decisions. No matter how many times industry rankings sort and filter these young men.
There is a nice array of Walker news which sparks this update, but that doesn’t feel as pertinent as resetting his specific recruiting story.
Where this Schley County standout comes from means a great deal. The fact that he’s inspired by the memory of his late father, too.
Maybe it is because the nationally-rated recruit (No. 156 overall on the 247Sports Composite ratings) doesn’t have an ounce of arrogance to him. It is not lost on Walker that he is a blessed young man.
That’s because he hails from the smallest of counties. Schley County registers on the U.S. Census Bureau website with a population of 5,236 people. That was the 2018 estimate.
He took an official visit to Auburn last weekend. He’ll visit Alabama this weekend. Bryant-Denny Stadium has a capacity of 101,821 fans. It is mind-boggling to note here the Crimson Tide could fit every one of those 5,236 Schley County citizens in there 20 times.
“Yes, sir,” he said. “You really can. Ellaville is small. Now that you mention it, it actually makes me think about it. You could really fit Ellaville in there 20 times.”
If it is a reporter’s job to always bring the most important and interesting material to the reader, then how can the facts he has his last official set to UGA (Texas A&M weekend) and a firm decision timeline (the week of Thanksgiving after that trip) seem more memorable than that?
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Zykeivous Walker: Where he really comes from
The scouting profile is also eye-popping here. Not just the story.
- 6 feet, 4.5 inches and 265 pounds
- Size 14 feet
- 83-inch wingspan
- The way he carries those 265 pounds like an SEC power forward
- His prospect ratings carry four times as many stars (4) as the number of stoplights in his town
- Rates as the nation’s No. 9 strong-side DE on the 247Sports Composite ratings
Walker lives only about two or three minutes from that lone red light. He can drive from one side of the county to the other in 10-15 minutes.
What are the odds of one of the nation’s elite recruits coming from the eighth-smallest county in Georgia? They must be very long. Georgia now has high schools with a student population of approximately 3,800 students.
There’s maybe only 30 citizens in Schley for every square mile. The census number for Fulton County in 2010, the largest Georgia county, was 1,730 persons per square mile in 2010.
“Yes, sir,” he said. “We are very small. I’m from a small town. It is a big deal because I’m from a small town, you know, and a lot of people from small towns get counted out. So it means a lot for me to be looked at from a small town. Most schools recruit players from big-time counties and cities and stuff and look over the small county. It means a lot for them to recruit me and look at me coming from Ellaville, Georgia.”
Overlooked? Counted out? When a player looks like Walker and then moves like a true wildcat across the defensive line, he would stand out like a Starbucks in Ellaville. Its population (1,863) is even smaller according to U.S Census Bureau estimates.
Recruits update their officials and decision timelines often in the dusk of the senior seasons, but it just seems different from this young man.
“It means a lot to me for them to take the time out to recruit me,” he said.
His Schley County speech patterns and tones do offer up hints and inflections of Johnson County in 1979. There was another fella with the same last name back then. He will even share his words in a similar manner.
Walker, 19, wants to major in business. He wants to own his own company and take care of his mother Melanie Dupree. He knows she has done a lot for him.